Facebook Lands Lonzo Ball and Basketball Family for Reality Show

By Imani Moise Features Dow Jones Newswires

Facebook Inc. is betting a family of media-savvy basketball personalities can draw a dedicated audience to its revamped original programming effort.

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LaVar Ball and his family -- including his son, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball -- will star in a new reality series called "Ball in the Family," which will air on the social media site's recently redesigned Watch video tab.

Mr. Ball's spirited and even theatrical promotion of Lonzo, who was selected second in the NBA draft this summer, has been the subject of much media attention. Mr. Ball made headlines after claiming that Lonzo, who has yet to play in an NBA game, is a better player than two-time MVP Steph Curry and that, in his prime, he himself could have taken on basketball legend Michael Jordan in a one-on-one contest.

Trailers for the show indicate it will offer an inside look at the family, including LaVar's efforts to groom his three sons into basketball legends, the building of the Big Baller Brand business and his wife's rehabilitation after a stroke.

The first two episodes will be available Thursday, and new episodes will be released on Sundays beginning Sept. 10.

"We wanted to give our fans an unfiltered look into our lives and show them a side of us that isn't typically seen," LaVar Ball said in a statement. "We have a big community of fans on Facebook, so we're excited our series is going to be on Watch."

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The video series is being produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, the company behind "Keeping up with the Kardashians," "The Real World," and "The Simple Life."

The social media site is hoping the show will attract a significant weekly audience for appointment viewing similar to traditional TV programming and also compete with the likes of Google's YouTube.

"Airing this show on Facebook has enabled us to push the conventions of reality in a way we think will really drive community engagement," said Julie Pizzi, co-president of entertainment and development at Bunim/Murray Productions.

Facebook is trying to position itself to draw more video advertising dollars to help drive revenue growth. To jump-start the original video effort, Facebook is trying to help offset the risk for creators either by paying to offset their production costs or offering to license or buy their content outright, people familiar with the matter have said.

Facebook also is offering some publishers a share of revenue generated from video ads, and in some cases, guaranteeing a certain amount of ad revenue. Facebook has said it hopes to move to an advertising revenue share model exclusively down the road.

Facebook hasn't disclosed how much it's spending on original content.

Earlier this month, Facebook gave marketers the ability to run video ads specifically as "in-stream" placements, meaning they will appear as ad breaks in the middle of publishers' videos.

Write to Imani Moise at imani.moise@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 30, 2017 12:08 ET (16:08 GMT)